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Classic Close Calls
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My current comments about this article:
 Classic Close Calls

 

Q. When is a close call not a close call? A. When it is a

close call.

Confused? Let's try it again this time with "close" meaning

near and "CLOSE" meaning sales.

Q. When is a CLOSE call not a CLOSE call? A. When it is a

close call. Remember! CLOSE means an attempt to complete a sale and close

means nearby.

The vernacular of selling is indeed ironic, for there is a

world of difference between CLOSE calls and close calls

That difference equates to major $$$. Close calls cost

money. CLOSE calls bring in money. And one doesn't need to

know algebra to determine the delta in going from a dollar

expenditure to a dollar receipt.

The challenge: "How to reduce the close calls and make more

CLOSE calls?" There are many ways; but, none is more

critical than AVOIDING THE close (near) ONES FROM THE START.

NEAR MISSES

S

Its not surprising that there are so many close calls in

sales. There is a whole system of psychology, sales

management and product development/marketing that fosters

their existence. Here's but a few:

1. Many prospects don't want to hurt a salesperson's

feelings; and sales people inturn don't want their feelings

hurt. So nobody tells the truth or asks for the truth. I

refer to this as "don't show me yours and I'll not show you

mine." It's kids play!

2. Sales management insists on a full forecast sheet; and

sale people comply by holding on to a "stiff" which is easier

than finding another qualified lead. I label this one as the

"body-count mentality."

3. There are not adequate lead generation programs operating

to create a bubbling pot of qualified prospects that

naturally effervese to the top, which would obviate #1 & #2.

I call this "stupid."

4. Often product development and sales/marketing management

delude themselves about the validity buyer objections which

eventually croak a sale... and would have croaked the sale

from the start had the prospect been aware of their existence

back then. This one I call the "optimist." Seldom does

anyone ever ask whether a late stage objection was in fact an

initial stage misqualification. Such post-mortems are

normally reserved only for the loss of a major sale or the

building of a case to be used against someone. Yet, by

qualifying early and qualifying often, late stage objections

are minimized thus reducing close calls while maximizing

CLOSE calls.

SALES TRIAGE

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n5a7 A

A triage is a system designed to produce the greatest benefit

from limited facilities or resources. In a triage, full

resources are applied to those capable of deriving the

greatest benefit from them and not to those who will die

inspite of their application or to those who will survive

without their application. Triages are set up for the

treatment of battlefield injuries; for the distribution of

food to the starving; and yes, even temporarily for the

reconnection of power after a hurricane.

Sales triage should be established for the same reason. To

optimize resources for closing business based on an on-going

qualifying process.

Now, surely there are many of you that are currently saying

that you already do this by classifying prospects. Perhaps

you do. But, classifying prospects is not the same as

actually treating them on a resource priority basis.

For example, it's no revelation that a salesperson would

rather spend an afternoon at a prospect with whom s/he feels

comfortable, than with one where the feeling is unfriendly.

However, the chances are great that this prospect is already

classified as an A (that' why there's comfort). But this

time spent with the potential customer is counter to the

purpose of triage. Most class A prospects or customers would

or will buy, with or without as much hand holding.

Then there is a whole class of prospects that are tire

kickers. They have done it for so long that they are not

only good at it... but excellent. And because so, they are

capable of consuming enormous time and resources before being

discovered. In a sales triage, they rob a company of

valuable selling resources, thus dashing sales efficiency.

Quickly determining that they are perpetual close calls and

that they should be provided only minimal sales maintenance

coverage is of paramount importance. Sure, they may CLOSE one

day. But a triage is based on statistics; and statisically

the tire kicker is a long shot.

In between there is a class of prospect that will produce the

greatest return on pre-sales dollar invested. In terms of

the boiling pot anology in #3 above, these bubbles are on

the way up to the top of the pot. The more heat that you

give them...the faster they raise.

PREVENTION

. N

U

Ultimately the challenge is to seek ways that screen out the

late stage objections up front while not undermining the step

by step process of building value that goes on during the

sales cycle. Let's face it... most products have their

drawback and without this value adding process a stark

upfront recital of the ten most frequent objections to any

product would probably qualify the prospect list to zero.

It's doubtful that even Wart Hogs start off a spring court-

ship by showing off all their warts.

The following procedures help.

1. ALWAYS LEAVE AN "OUT". Building an "obligation" to buy

is a clever maneuver of skilled sales people... and there

are many CLOSES made via this manipulation that otherwise

would not have been made. However, there are often several

points during a sale where it is helpful to remind the person

that they have a right to say that they've lost interest. If

they have, much time will be saved by this honest exchange.

SALES TIP: If this "out" is not offered in business to

business selling, the sense of obligation mentioned above may

never materialize. However, if the out is offered to and

then declined by the prospect the "obligation" will be built.

2. ALWAYS SET A DEADLINE. Developing an internal sales

person to champion your product or service is key to CLOSING

a sale. Unfortuneately, they are mortal and can either run

out of stamina or political courage. Therefore, it's

necessary to set milestones based on time and accomplish

ments with these helpers and to make an easy understanding

with them that if they are not met, you're going into the

company through another route. This eliminates the go-around

hard feeling and the continuation of a masked misqualifica-

tion at a higher level.

SALES TIP: All sales people are drilled to understand that

they should call at the highest level. This is fine, except

that it is impossible for all to do if for no other reason

than the limits of the executives time. Consequently, sale

people have to learn ways to read that person within the

first couple of calls with other people.

3. ALWAYS HAVE SUCCESSIVE LINES OF SALES MANAGEMENT QUALIFY

THE SALESPERSON OR MANAGER BELOW. Theoretically this should

not be necessary. But it is. And the greatest testimony for

the value of such a discipline is the NASA countdown

checklist. Nothing is taken for granted; nothing is left to

memory; noboby's ego is bruised; and with one unfortunate

exception, nobody is left on base.

CLOSING TRUTHS

Always remember that there is some interested party who would

buy your product or service if only they were made aware of

its existence. You deny yourself this CLOSE call when

your're too wrapped up with close calls.

It's often quipped that close is only good in horseshoes.

That's not even true when someone else gets a ringer. And

that's the truth in sales, too!

Sottile's Winning Action Team
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Tactical Marketing Agency

"Marketing Tactics Make Corporate Strategies Happen!"
                                                                   John Sottile